Friday, 26 June 2015

Tour and visit of Djanbung Gardens in Nimbin

 I had the chance last week to visit Djanbung Gardens in Nimbin together with Kate. Djanbung gardens is one of Australia 's leading Permaculture centre established in 1994 by Robyn Francis .Its a living landscape of sustainability in practice. Djanbung means platypus in the local Wyabul dialect. The name was given by Bundjalung elder ´Uncle´ Eric Walker.


1993 – land was acquired, major earthworks for dams & swales, 3 railway carriages moved on site, renovated & essential services installed. First trees planted
1994 – moved into railway carriages, started gardens, first courses conducted
1995 – received Rivercare 2000Award for Composting toilet & greywater system
1996 – began construction of main education centre building
1997 – hosted Australasian Permaculture Convergence
1998 – Main building officially opened
2000-2002 – hosted National Permaculture Gatherings
2003 – launched National Accredited Permaculture Training
2005 – Commenced APT delivery Cert III and Cert IV at Djanbung Gardens and established Bioregional Campus
since then the gardens have continued to grow, and grow, and grow….
Robyn Francis the founder of Djanbung Gardens,she has completed her PDC in 1983 and is one of the Permaculture pioneers of Australia.Robyn Francis is an inspiring and skilled educator, passionate about empowering people to solve problems in a practical and creative way, regenerate their environments, build resilient communities and create abundance while caring for the earth. Based on the earthcare ethics and ecological principles permaculture can be readily applied and adapted to specific cultures and climates.
Robyn Francis has been developing and delivering permaculture training throughout Australia and internationally since 1984, and is regarded as one of permaculture’s leading and most experienced educators and practitioners. She has taught hundreds of courses including the classic PDC, advanced and specialist courses for professional development, as well as fulltime Accredited Permaculture Training (APT) Certificate III, IV and Diploma. Many highly respected permaculture teachers and presenters have undertaken training with Robyn Francis including Rosemary Morrow, Geoff Lawton, Costa Georgiadis, Morag Gambol, Darren Dougherty, John Champagne and Steve Cran.

Robyn Francis is the founder and principal of Permaculture College Australia, developing curricula and programs, and senior trainer-assessor for the APT Certificate IV and Diploma program at Djanbung Gardens. Her annual schedule includes limited periods for travelling to teach intensive courses elsewhere in Australia and overseas.

Overseas work has involved teaching PDCs, advanced courses, teacher training, professional development and consultation in Bali, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, New Zealand, USA, Cuba, Germany and France, many of which have involved working with translators.

It was an honor for me to meet Robyn Francis,her daughter and other permaculture practitioners involved at Djanbung Gardens

Djanbung Gardens – from cowpasture to permaculture paradise

                                       Student Accomodations

It felt the whole place is very well geared towards creating a nice learning environment for students and Robyn herself is just such a lovely,inspiring and knowledgeable person that has dedicated many years of her life towards Permaculture research and practical action.

Here are short infos of some of he Key areas of Djanbung Gardens as shown to us by Robyn Francis daughter during our visit. These key areas are described very nicely in the map handout for self guided tours and I have complied here some of them :
Education & Resource Centre: This building has been designed by Robyn Francis and features passive solar house design. Natural building techniques like earthbricks,natural renders and packed-sawdust-sand panels. The surrounding edible landscape supports the passive solar design with deciduous trees to the north and windbreaks to the south-west.

Greywater Wetland Treatment System: This Rivercare 2000 Award winning system treats greywater from the railway-carriages kitchen sink,shower,handbasin and laundray tub plus excess urine from the composting toilets.

Blackwater Reedbed Treatment & Flow Forms: Treats waste water from the main building canteen kitchen and flushing toilet. All waste flows into septic tank for solids to settle out and waste water gravity feeds trough the reedbed system for purification. The holding pond has flow forms for aeration treatment and oxygenation as the final treatment.

 Djanbung Gardens Main Dam: The main dam with a holding capacity of 1,8 megalitres is Djanbung “drought insurance ¨ .The pond is also a natural aquaculture system stocked with native fish,attracts a variety of wild aquatic animals and water birds and provides a natural swimming pool in summer.

Top dam for gravity irrigation: Constructed at the highest point of the property,this dam gravity feeds the watering system for the gardens and livestock.

Temperate Orchard and Ducks: This orchard maximises the winter chill and frost factor of the valley floor.A flock of ducks are rotated to provide natural fertilisers for the fruit trees,and control weeds and pests.Over 18 citrus varieties are inter-planted with temperate fruits including pomegranate,fig,olive,japanese plum,quince,pecan,low chill peach and native shrubs for pest predators.

Tropical Food Forest: A frost-free microclimate has been created for subtropical and tropical fruits.Under the tree legume canopy are layers of productive plants: Jakfruit, Starfruit, Grumichama and local rainforest bushfoods. Understory plants include Coffee, Galangal, Tumeric and Cardamon.

Poultry & Pig System: Two poultry systems flank the main path to the garden and composting bays.The main chicken system includes a strawyard for processing garden mulch and a forage forest if fruit trees and bamboo windbreak where garden weeds and food scraps are fed to the chickens.Breeds include old heritage rare breeds.Adjoining the poultry is the permanent pig pen housing for Polly,the main poo producer for compost.The pigs are taken for regular forage walks in the orchard and there are also pig tractor gardens where main staple crops are planted after the pigs worked the soil.

The mulch meadow: The main mulch meadow is a valuable source of mulch and provides an area for occasional animal free-ranging. It is also a valuable space for recreation and events.

Overall I really enjoyed my time at Djanbung Gardens and felt inspired by the place,its people and the lovely social environment. Hope to be back in the future.......

more about Djanbung Gardens and Robyn Francis here:

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